Tag Archive: Nature


Why to go Valley School ?

I have more than 100 visits of Valley School, Kanakapura Road, Bangalore but never get bored off with the place. It still have a lot to offer. Its one of the best places when you want to rest yourself.

Initial days, I used to rush at this place to cover maximum ground. But now, I just visit the place to have some birding and lot of calmness. Here are some of the snaps of the place and some of the birds, some of the butterflies around.

Oriental White Eye

Oriental White Eye

Common Gull

Common Gull

Grey Francolin

Grey Francolin

Oriental White Eye searching the nest

Oriental White Eye searching the nest

Tawny Coaster

Tawny Coaster

Orange Tip

Orange Tip

Lemon Pansy

Lemon Pansy

Common Sailer

Common Sailer

Lemon Pansy

Lemon Pansy

Red Tip in Valley School

Red Tip in Valley School

Jerdon's Bushlark in Valley School

Jerdon’s Bushlark in Valley School

Pea Blue in Valley School

Pea Blue in Valley School

Common Gull in Valley School

Common Gull in Valley School

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Lalbagh being in the center of the City, it is quite accessible and always crowded. Even Government is trying to increase the ticket costs and the current cost is:

1. Person Entry : 10 Rs.

2. Camera Entry: 50 Rs.

No fees, before 9 AM and after 6 PM. Camera case is quite ambiguous before 9 AM and after 6 PM.

Now, what to do in Lalbagh. First of all, its a botanical garden and if you are not interested in plants, trees, lakes, birds, flowers, its merely a place to sit and talk.

1. Enjoy Flowers. It has a rose garden and other flowers like Dahlia, Cosmos will be available in the summers.

You can enjoy some of the blogs on flowers day.

Pink Rose

Pink Rose

White Rose in Lalbagh

White Rose in Lalbagh

Red Rose in Lalbagh

Red Rose in Lalbagh

Pink Rose collection in Lalbagh

Pink Rose collection in Lalbagh

Flowers at Lalbagh

Flowers at Lalbagh

2. Enjoy Hunting – Its a very rich place with lot of fishes. So, you can often see a good killing/hunting scene around it. Snakes, Pelicans, Kites, Cormorants are often can be seen in action.

Checkered keelback water snake with a Kill at Lalbagh

Checkered keelback water snake with a Kill at Lalbagh

Checkered keelback water snake with a Kill at Lalbagh

Checkered keelback water snake with a Kill at Lalbagh

Keelback Snake gulping a big fish at Lalbagh

Keelback Snake gulping a big fish at Lalbagh

3. Enjoy Birding:

A Spot-billed Pelican flying

A Spot-billed Pelican flying

Pond Heron with a kill

Pond Heron with a kill

4. Enjoy Nature/Photo shoot – Its a great place to witness sunrise, sunset and the transformed clouds. Provides all kind of background for good photo shoot.

Sunset in Lalbagh

Sunset in Lalbagh

A beautiful view of the lake

A beautiful view of the lake

5. Butterflies – If you are interested in shooting butterflies or gaining knowledge about it. Great place again !!

Common Yellow Grass on Dahlia

Common Yellow Grass on Dahlia

Green Tailed Jay on Dhalia  flower

Green Tailed Jay on Dahlia flower

Have Fun, Do Visit. Highest no. of people use it for running/jogging/walking and worth a place to do exercise. It provide one of the coolest stretch to do so.

Do, drop us your comments and anytime you want to join us for Lalbagh trail.

Bangalore… a city that outshines others Indian cities

Is Bangalore just an IT city? For many of us it’s just a city with many job opportunities for everyone. I came to Bangalore with the same perception. But gradually, as time passed, I realised what this city offers to one and all. This city is a mix of cultures and traditions. Bangalore has not lost its charm even after the development of IT sector. People like us, with hectic weekdays, find peace in some of the places that are within the vicinity of Bangalore.

Bird watching and photography is our passion. Many of us are aware about the famous birding spots in Bangalore. It is difficult to find such nice birding areas in other commercial cities. Thus people staying in Bangalore are keen to spend their weekend in the lap of nature. The birding spots found here can be marshy grasslands, mountains, dense forests, lakes etc. So, most of the birds can be spotted here. I leave my home at dawn with the hope of finding birds in their natural habitat. But still it seems to be a very small list of places where I have been and there is much more to see and enjoy. One of my favourite birding area is Hoskote lake. Hoskote is near to where I stay. Hoskote has different habitats for different birds. That is why it is an amazing place for all bird fanatics.

The wet grasslands in Hoskote are suitable for a variety of birds like Munia. Many winter migrants can be seen here. A large variety of Kingfishers are near the lakeside to catch a prey.

Tricoloured Munia (also called Black Headed Munia)

Tricoloured Munia (also called Black Headed Munia)

Common Kingfisher

Common Kingfisher

Jacobin Cuckoo

Jacobin Cuckoo

Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier

Indian Silverbill or White-Throated Munia

Indian Silverbill or White-Throated Munia

Siberian Stonechat (female)  It is a Winter Migrant.

Siberian Stonechat (female)
          It is a Winter Migrant.

I have given one of many reasons to love Bangalore. There are many such things that I wish to write. I am still trying to unravel the other side of Bangalore that is picturesque. My upcoming journeys would cover more of Bangalore city and places near to it. Stay tuned!

Edge Wade and June Newman, two birders whom I hold in high esteem and have long wanted to meet, planned on a nice birding outing for me, to Riverlands Bird Sanctuary, on the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. There was a beautiful view of the

Clark Bridge

from where we were:

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We stopped at what we would call the backwaters, first:

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We found a lot of

DOUBLE-BREASTED COROMORANTS

and

RING-BILLED GULLS:

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I was very pleased with the zoom on the SX50, because the birds were quite far away.

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We also saw a couple of immature

BALD EAGLES,

fishing:

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I was glad I had the zoom of the SX50:

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GREAT BLUE HERONS

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and

GREAT EGRETS

were everywhere.

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The

AMERICAN PELICANS

were delightful, too.

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A Bald Eagle got in on the act, too:

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and there were a couple of Broad-winged Hawks, a lifer for me. (No pics, they were too high up!)

TURKEY BUZZARDS

floated high above, too.

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We wanted to sight the Red Knot, and other birds that had been reported..but were not lucky, because a Peregrine Falcon flew over, and that disturbed all the birds, and the only shore birds we could see were some Kildeer. Barn Swallows swooped overhead; so we decided to go to the dam.

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Edge has forgotten more about birding than I will ever know.

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I called her a Spider as she went along with two legs of her own, and six extra (scope) ones:

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So, also, with June:

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We shared the coffee I’d brought:

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I’m going to make another post about our visit to the Confluence trail, because that was a nature trail, just the kind I like, with food, information about everything that we were seeing and passing, jokes, and wonderful weather with wonderful company…but we were short on birds. (We did see this bird at the end, against the sun, and I don’t know what it is…we didn’t decide…Brown-headed Cowbird,is my opinion..)

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The photos are on my FB album,

here

My thanks to Edge and June for a wonderful outing!

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Frog Identification Workshop

Hosted by Eco-Edu

Date:

The course has been scheduled for August 9th and 10th, 2014.

We will meet the participants at the turning towards the farm on Kanakapura Main Road at 5 PM on the 9th of August and proceed to the farm. The workshop will come to a close at 9 AM on the 10th of August 2014.

Venue:

Ravagodlu, on Kanakapura Road.

The course will be held within the premises of a private farm and its surroundings. The Suvarnamukhi River, which takes birth in Bannerghatta National Park, flows close to the farm. It is also surrounded by agricultural fields and forms an ideal habitat to explore for frogs. We will not be venturing into the forest.

Route map:

click here

Resource Persons:

The workshop will be led by Seshadri K S, a doctoral student at the National University of Singapore. Seshadri has been captivated by the sheer beauty and complexity of nature. His fascination of nature grew when he started out as a bird watcher. Since then, he has spent much of his time being in “the field” and observing nature. He has studied several ecological systems ranging from dragonflies to epiphytes in the tall forest canopies in the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot of India. In the recent past, his focus has been on amphibians and has been studying ecology, behavior and means to conserve frogs. For his doctoral thesis, he is working on the ecology and behavior of bamboo nesting frogs in South Asia.

Other naturalists who will assist on this workshop are

T. S. Sreenivasa

Ulhas Anand

Karthik Kumar

Vidisha Kulkarni

This overnight workshop is designed to introduce the wonderful world of frogs, herpetology as a hobby and to help you identify frogs that you are likely to see around the city. The course will delve deep into finer aspects, while helping you develop a wonderful hobby.

This course is well-suited to beginners, while adding value even if you are a little more familiar with the outdoors.

If you are into wildlife photography, this course will increase your confidence in frog identification and help you add a better perspective to your skills. You will be guided in identifying frogs by sight and sound and learn about the ways they interact with the environment. You will also be introduced to basic scientific techniques that can prove to be invaluable for a more serious involvement.

The course, though being very informative in content, will have a relaxed atmosphere to encourage interactions in the form of questions and discussions.

You will be provided with enough directions to easily reach the rendezvous point.

Wholesome vegetarian food will be provided and will include dinner and breakfast, as also tea and biscuits through the workshop to keep your chin up!

You will also be provided a book suited for taking down field notes and a pen. Sleeping arrangements will be in shared dormitory rooms on ground mattresses.

Cost:

The cost for the Overnight Frog Identification Workshop, including food and stay, will be Rs. 1,200. Only 20 participants will be allowed for this workshop. Participation will be confirmed only against payment on a first-come-first-serve basis. On the spot registrations are not welcome due to the logistics involved for this workshop.

Register

here

For any further queries, contact:

team@ecoedu.in

or

Dr. Mamlakatoi Haidarova +91-984-577-9838 (mamlakatoi@ecoedu.in)

Email to the bngbirds egroup:

I suppose by now everyone who went for the first Sunday outing to Hebbal would have come back, digested breakfast and settled down to the rest of the day…meanwhile, Garima, Jahnvi,Niket, Pradnya, and I went to Valley School to see what the morning would yield.

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Summer colours on the ground:

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In the trees:

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It turned to be a very enjoyable morning..and Valley School always shows us something unexpected. This seemed to be a morning of children! We saw a Jungle Babbler mother literally “spreading her wings” over her baby, as she also preened her baby.

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We saw many juvenile Small Green Bee-eaters. whose plumage lacked the bright sheen of the adults, or the distinctive tail. Coppersmith Barbet “children”, too, were everywhere; the crimson patch on their foreheads not developed yet.

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White-browed Bulbuls

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and Red-whiskered Bulbuls, too, seemed to be flying about with their young ones. We watched several Flamebacks.

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Birders at the Banyan tree near the sheds:

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Spotted Owlet in the Banyan tree:

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Young White-cheeked Barbets:

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The children were not only of the bird species. A few showers have had a magical effect on the landscape in the Valley School area; greenery is bursting forth everywhere, as fresh shoots push their way up through the wet. fecund soil.

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A couple of caterpillars reminded me that babies come in all shapes and sizes. I will be asking for id’s for these; but their beauty by any other name would remain as beautiful.

Here’s one, on a blade of grass:

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Here’s another, on the Calatropis (Milkweed) plant:

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I was also fortunate enough to meet Thomas Job and Ajit Ampalakkad…

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the latter immediately showed me the Indian Lavender plant,

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and proceeded through the morning, to edify me on matters botanical.

Hog-Plum tree:

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I renewed my acquaintance with several trees and plants, and “shook hands” with a few more.

Loranthus (epiphyte), aka Mistletoe:

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There was, indeed, one seed, round and a light mauve in colour, dispersed around one area; that we could not source the parent tree of,or id.

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Grasshopper with a spider sitting on its head:

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Plain Tiger:

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Common Gull:

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Young saplings of Flame of the Forest (Butea monosperma) seem to be coming up in large numbers. This made me dream of the day when, festooned in flame-coloured blooms, these young trees will attract a lot of birds (though Ajit tells me that only one or two species pollinate the tree!). To dream of a Nature Future is lovely, especially when all the land nearby is getting flattened….perhaps for “Prakriti View Layout”s, or perhaps, as Niket said, a temple is going to come up. The green saplings give hope in an atmosphere of pessimism!

I watched several “ant rivers” pouring along the path as their nests must have got submerged…they were busy carrying larvae along. I watched, fascinated, as two Ant-mimicking Spiders fought each other fiercely; the contest ended abruptly, and they went their separate ways.

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A Solitary Hunter Wasp flew along…where would she make her nest and stun her prey,storing it in the nest and laying her eggs on it, so that the newly-hatched children would have fresh food to eat? We just prevented ourselves from walking into a web with a very tiny spider in it…the home was ready, the next step was procreation!

I enjoyed watching the camouflage of the Malkohas, and even of a Jumping Spider that just melted into the tree-trunk with exactly similar markings.

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I did try to catch some of it on my camera…but for the most part, I just watched, and enjoyed myself hugely.

What is the need to build a temple? The whole place, with all our fellow-citizens on this planet, seems to be a temple of Nature to me. I go there, I feel peace in my heart and mind, and come away energized…to me, all of the beautiful wilderness is a temple, and God (I am an agnostic, I don’t know if there is a God or a Goddess..or not) seems to reside in every leaf, every feather, every piece of stone.

We also met several other birders there, and it’s nice to say hello to like-minded people even if one does not exchange names. Two boys from Valley School asked us, on our way out, what we’d seen…and I was happy to see these two youngsters on their way to absorb the various wonders that Nature has in store for them. A magical place, the Valley School area…long may it last!

I’ve put up my SMS (Shamelessly Mediocre Shots) on my FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10152224313113878.1073742178.587058877&type=1

You can see the riotous colours of the summer blossoms, and the many tiny and large wonders that we experienced.

Garima has shared the bird list with me on E-bird. The list is at

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18643924

I’m not sure if this is good enough, or I need to give another link? Let me know, O ye E-bird savvy birders!

Butterflies:

Blues, Various
Cerulean, Common
Cerulean, Dark
Coster, Tawny
Crimson-tip, White
Emigrant, Common
Gull,Common
Jezebel, Common
Orange-tip, White
Pioneer
Rose, Common
Rose. Crimson
Tiger, Blue
Tiger, Dark Blue
Tiger, Plain
Wanderer, Common
Yellow, Common Grass

Others

Ants, Bees, Beetles, Dragonflies, Grasshoppers, and Wasps.

One Rat Snake, scurrying away quickly from me. This Garden Lizard, basking in the sun.

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If my words make you decide to go into the outdoors next weekend…I am really happy!

Ladybug:

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Riotous colours of summer:

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As we went around the grassland landscape during the Volunteer Training Program, Kiran spotted this large Scorpion, and I took a short video of it as we slowly passed in our vehicle. The creature was on the banked slope of the hill, and it was both rainy and late evening.

I am not sure if this is the Emperor Scorpion, which is the largest of scorpions, but not the longest. The emperor scorpion (Pandinus imperator) has a dark body ranging from dark blue/green through brown to black. The large pincers are blackish-red and have a granular texture. The front part of the body, or prosoma, is made up of four sections, each with a pair of legs. Behind the fourth pair of legs are comb-like structures known as pectines – these are longer in males and can be used by man to distinguish the sexes. The tail, known as the metasoma, is long and curves back over the body. It ends in the large receptacle.

Well…it certainly was a sight to see, in the misty, rainy dusk on the grasslands of Kudremukh!

You can click

here

for the photos of the first day from the VTP, which was held at the Bhagavathi Nature Camp, about 20 km from Kalasa, Karnataka.

The Hoopoe, Valley School, 110514

The

HOOPOE

was called the “Common Hoopoe”, but alas, it is no longer that common a bird. However, we are lucky enough to be able to see them once in a while, in the outskirts of Bangalore. This morning, as 15 of us went to see what we could in the Valley School area, this beautiful bird was the last sighting before we left…a fitting finale to a very enjoyable morning.

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The scientific name of the bird(Upupa epops), like the English name is an onomatopoeic form which imitates the cry of the bird.

This colourful bird is found across Afro-Eurasia,, and the Madagascar subspecies of the Hoopoe is sometimes elevated to a full species.

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The call is typically a trisyllabic oop-oop-oop, which gives rise to its English and scientific names, although two and four syllables are also common.

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Most European and north Asian birds migrate to the tropics in winter. The African populations are sedentary year-round.

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The Hoopoe has two basic requirements in its habitat; bare or lightly vegetated ground on which to forage and vertical surfaces with cavities (such as trees, cliffs or even walls, nestboxes, haystacks, and abandoned burrows) in which to nest.

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The diet of the Hoopoe is mostly composed of insects, although small reptiles, frogs and plant matter such as seeds and berries are sometimes taken as well. It is a solitary forager which typically feeds on the ground.

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The diet of the Hoopoe includes many species considered to be pests by humans; for example the pupae of the processionary moth, a damaging forest pest.

Hoopoes are distinctive birds and have made a cultural impact over much of their range. They were considered sacred in Ancient Egypt, so they were “depicted on the walls of tombs and temples”. They achieved a similar standing in Minoan Crete. Theywere seen as a symbol of virtue in Persia. They were thought of as thieves across much of Europe and harbingers of war in Scandinavia. Also, in Estonian tradition the Hoopoes are strongly connected with death and the underworld, their song is seen as a forebode of death for many a people or cattle.The Hoopoe is the king of the birds in the Ancient Greek comedy The Birds by Aristophanes.

…and….The Hoopoe was chosen as the national bird of Israel in May 2008!

When we found that this bird, which has lived amongst humans for so long, was not at all disturbed by our presence, we slowly, and carefully, fanned around it, without disturbing its foraging behaviour. I took this video to show how, sometimes, a group can photograph a bird from fairly close range, without alarming or disturbing it.

We bade goodbye as as it walked along peacefully in the sunshine:

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A little later, off it flew…and we walked on with great satisfaction at having seen, and observed, this bird for a good while!

click here

for my FB album

When summer blooms…

The

GULMOHAR

is in full bloom in the heat of summer…to me, the red blooms symbolize Grishma Ritu.

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A tree from Madagascar, which has made itself part of the Indian landscape.

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An incredible fact is that in the wild, this tree is endangered!But it seems to have been introduced all over the world:

“Delonix regia is endemic to the western forests of Madagascar, but has been introduced into tropical and sub-tropical regions worldwide. In the continental United States, it grows in South Florida, Southwest Florida, the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, ranging from the low deserts of Southern Arizona (to as high as Tucson), and Southern California. It also grows in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti, Hawaii, Mexico (especially in the Yucatan peninsula), Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, where it is the official tree of the islands. It is much loved in the Caribbean; many Dominican & Puerto Rican paintings feature Flamboyant Trees. It can also be found in The Bahamas. The Poinciana is the national flower of St. Kitts and Nevis. The island of Mauritius has widespread distribution of the Royal Poinciana where it announces the coming of the new year. The Royal Poinciana is regarded as naturalised in many of the locations where it is grown. It is a popular street tree in the suburbs of Brisbane, Australia. The tree is also found in India and Pakistan, where it is referred to as the Gulmohar, or Gul Mohr. In West Bengal (India) and Bangladesh it is called Krishnachura.”

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I remember an avenue on the Maidan in Kolkata being called Red Road because it was an avenue of Gulmohar trees, and approaching aircraft during the British Raj, which used the road as a runway during WW2, seeing a carpet of red…which you can see in my photograph, too!

And here are the other colours of summer flowers on our roads:

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When we went to meet Gundappa Master, at Tumkur, he told us that a

BRONZEBACK TREE SNAKE

had also been rescued from a villager’s house. The villager was very scared and worried that it was a venomous snake, and wanted to kill it, so it was taken away for release in the forest.

We only witnessed the release; we did not want to touch the snake as it was already rather distressed.

Gundappa Master opens the bag, after we reached the interior of the Devarayana Durga State Forest, well away from the road:

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He puts it on a tree:

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While giving the snake a little time to calm down, we take our shots:

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Long, slender, smooth-scales.
Head distinctly broader than neck; snout bluntly rounded.
Large eyes have round pupils.
Tail very long, thin and wire-like.
This species has a dark blue tongue.

The snake’s blue eyes mean that it is at the beginning of ecdysis…the process of shedding its old skin. At this time, the reptile’s vision is not good, and it would like to be undisturbed.

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Behavior
Diurnal. Arboreal; inhabits low bushes, thorn trees, indian date palms, and palmyra.
Feeds on frogs, garden lizards, geckos and small birds, even entering thatched houses to feed.
Extremely fast.
Notched sharply defined edges of belly scales help it climb.
Females lay 6-8 long, thin eggs in tree holes and rotting vegetation.
Nervous disposition, if cornered, some will strike repeatedly while expanding forebody to show light blue/white color at lower edge of each scale.

The blue scales showing on the back also show that it is distressed.

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In this shot, the blue scales on the back (that only show when the snake is in distress) are not showing. The snake is definitely calmer.

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Here we are, photographing it while it collects itself:

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The snake then quickly drops to the ground, once again showing the blue scales of distress:

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The snake then slithers off over the rocks, and is gone.

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Both Gundappa Master, and we (Chandu, Gopal, Yash and I) hope our release is a successful one and that this beautiful, non-venomous snake has a long life….

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